Dee Kay, Head of Digital Business Development
Websites are one of the most important things an RTO needs to get right, as it's the digital ‘storefront’ of the business. A good website will attract new students, facilitate the enrolment process, support brand and reputation, and collect key pieces of data and analytics to continuously stay competitive and relative to an RTO’s target market. One great platform many RTOs use for their websites is Wordpress.
It can be useful to conduct a free health check on your current website by entering your website address at the following link: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/.
This tool summarises web page performance for both desktop and mobile devices and provides suggestions for how you can improve and optimise your site. Optimising the quality of user experience is vital for SEO and how your site is ranked in the eyes of Google. For further reading, check out Google’s new initiative Core Web Vitals, which can be an important area to understand when developing and maintaining your website.
It’s important to ensure your web server is adequate for your site’s minimum requirements and has a suite of features to keep everything running smoothly. If you browse your site and feel like you’re waiting for content to load too often, your web server likely needs upgrading. However, many RTOs have never logged into or upgraded their web servers since the time of purchase with their website – not realising that much has changed over the years. This can have negative effects on business success, including losing potential students, enrolments and getting penalised by Google's SEO ranking system.
Key features to look for in a web server are:
RTOs shouldn’t be doing major updates to their live website. Instead, RTOs should have a ‘staging’ server. This is essentially a copy of the live site, where you can make and test updates. Once updates are complete and work as expected, they can easily be applied to the live site for everyone to see. You might remember the message ‘Under Construction’ from websites of the past, but these days a staging/development server allows for updates and maintenance without any interruption to your live site.
Most web servers today have automatic backup on a daily basis, and if something goes wrong it can be reverted to a previous backup within minutes. Without a daily backup you are at risk, so make sure your web server is backing your site (at a minimum daily).
Did you know that some of your conditions of registration, in terms of data privacy, require you to only contain student information in Australia and not offshore? Government contracts also require strict data privacy. Ensure that the webserver of choice has the option to host your website from Australian data centres.
Opt for a web server that is a managed service, where the server architecture is designed specifically for Wordpress. This type of setup will provide the highest level of security for your site and includes many more benefits under the hood. Kinsta, WP Engine and Siteground are all companies that can provide these key features and web server upgrades.
The online world is competitive – everyone is trying to get noticed. Your competitors are working on their website’s SEO, with some outsourcing the work to a professional company to maximise their site’s presence in Google search. There are some simple steps to follow to keep your site healthy and optimised for Google search engines.
Using tools that professionals use on a daily basis can take this to the next level. Semrush is a leading tool in the SEO industry, providing tools for keyword research, SEO, competitor analysis, content marketing, link building and more.
If there was one tool out of all tools that you should have for your site, it’s Google Analytics. Google Analytics gives you detailed information on all the traffic entering your site and is used to make informed business decisions. With Google Analytics, businesses can answer questions such as what page was the most popular page that converted prospects into enrolments, and how many people entered a specific page and left without any interaction at all. This information is vital and can help RTOs better manage their website’s success, and in turn gain more enrolments and students.
Are you able to create a list of all enquiries from your website’s enquiry form, within minutes? How about all enquiries for last quarter only, and for a specific course, but then further filtering out the enquiries that have already enrolled? If you answered no to these questions, you may be missing out on sales opportunities, while wasting valuable time manually tracking this information.
A CRM integrated with your site will allow you to manage all the interactions with potential students from enquiry to enrolment and nurture a relationship until they are ready to take the big step of enrolling into a course. It’s important to understand the ‘sales funnel’ journey and be mindful that most of your website traffic aren’t in the ‘conversion’ stage yet. A CRM like HubSpot can help achieve this, and for many a CRM becomes the ‘employee who never sleeps’.
User-centered design is essentially where user problems are solved by prioritising the user’s needs above all else. Too many websites are built around compliance requirements without thinking about the end user’s requirements, problems, goals and pain points.
Simple and effective changes to your site can make a big difference. Here’s a few to consider.
A simple and effective way for your website visitors to book themselves in with your organisation (be it a quick information session, campus tour, pre-screening, or meet-and-greet) is with easy-to-use calendar tools, such as Calendly. Calendly can be embedded in your site, and used to advertise available slots for visitors to book themselves in.
Now, you’re a training organisation, not a retail store, and it may feel like too much effort to offer products online. The truth is, with the changing climate and ever-increasing demand for convenience, purchasing online has become the preferred option for many. Wordpress extends to a full-featured eCommerce platform with a plugin called WooCommerce, which has a whole range of customisable features in the WooCommerce marketplace. The products and services your online shop could offer can accommodate course enrolments, but can also just be a general value-add of products and services to the students, trainers, staff and the industry you service.
To sum up, your website is your secret weapon. Making the most of your website means you’re bound to attract more students, have better control of your brand, and use data from sources like Google Analytics to increase business success.
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